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Writers Writing Dying: Poems

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  74 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Since his first poetry collection, Lies, C. K. Williams has nurtured an incomparable reputation—as a deeply political poet, a writer of profound emotion, and a teller of great stories. In Writers Writing Dying, he retains the essential parts of his poetic identity—his candor, the drama of his verses, the social conscience of his themes—while slyly reinventing himself, re-c ...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
Felt like I was listening to a wise yet world weary uncle telling me about his travels...honest yet insightful conversation on the equation of life.
Dec 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Why am I reading old white men poets? Because they are the kind of poets that are most readily available at the public library and...sigh...even the local bookstore.

I used to like C. K. Williams and his long-legged lines, but he was younger then and so was I. Now his poems seem too prosaic. They walk like old men. They have an odd, unbalanced gait.

A few pieces called out to me. "Mask" reminded me of my own creeping decrepitude. I liked "The Day Continued Lovely" best of all.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not gonna lie, there are some stinkers in this slim new collection. I don't blame Williams, I'm sure at his age, having written so many amazing words and sentences, one is grateful when anything keeps coming through. His self critical pen has been held back a bit here. Poems like "Spew," read like that title. Some good ideas and images but nothing unified.

But THANKFULLY, there are enough great poems here to earn it four stars and to make me remember what's great about C.K. "Whacked" begins t
Tom Romig
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ah, mortality: hounding us, spurring us on, baffling us.
Asma Khoory
I don't think this book deserves even one star.
Doralee Brooks
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
He's my favorite contemporary poet, and I return to his poems and essays again and again. This book is amazing!
Brian Wilkins
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Even the poems which are not as successful (and that by comparison) confront me, spur thought, & have their own rangy music.
Tamara! aka Amy G. Dala
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned
Dramatic, morose, rambling, gritty, bleak, wordy, insightful. I really like the dust-jacket illustration, the poems too. "Cancer" really hit home as have a loved one battling that nonsense as I type. She's weary yet optimistic. Kind of like Williams on a 'good day'. I wonder if he's actually that funny grandpa in real life, making his grandkids laugh at silly things. I'd like to think so.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Summary: a collection of random poems by Williams regarding life lessons, family, career, and random philosophies about life.

Genre: Poetry

Page Length: 80

Published: October 2012

Going to skip the usual pros and cons and just write a general paragraph about this one:

I only enjoyed about two poems from this entire book. A lot of the poems just flew over my head and I had no idea what the author was really talking about. It read like one of those books that was too philosophical for its own good. But
Mark Bennett
Not sure, calming to read, not unsettling, like reading so much of Keats and having no access to gods, goddesses, myths and narratives of antiquity.

A scholar-poet C. K. Williams is, no Charles Bukowski stirring it up, heading out the back door of the bar to puke his guts out, then to turn and throw a right cross at the asshole who's dogging him for having hit on his wife, and am thinking of Buk's "that rare good moment," and no hint of that here, nothing like that with Williams, just genteel adm
Jo Kaiser
May 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This is the first of C.K. Williams that I have read and judging by the reviews (which I read having finished reading this collection), I should read more of his work before I can accurately judge this one. In particular, I should read his earlier works for, according to those that have read them, they are superior to the ones here. I must admit half-way through reading one of these poems, I forget which, I did pause, flip to the front of the book, and search for the date of publication; this was ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary, library
I've technically only half-finished this one, which is never a good sign. I suppose once you hit C. K. Williams's age, you earn the right to write indulgently… but that doesn’t mean I have to read it.

This anthology begins with “Whacked,” a poem about poems that strike you, that thud into your chest with Kafka’s axe to the frozen sea. It’s nice, and it’s about a nice idea, but honestly, never inspired that axe-strike for me. Williams covers subjects ranging from Texan textbooks to Matchbook cards
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I liked most of these poems, but several reviewers feel that this particular collection by C.K. Williams isn't as good as his previous work. Seems like a indication I should read more of C.K. Williams.

"My life's a topological monster not enough room in the century I was born in
too much in the one where I'll die so many blots and erasures maybe I'll
some other century to better graph my trajectory" (from "Timeline")


"Unbuckle your spurs life don't you know up ahead where the road ends the
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I'm not really a fan of C.K. Williams' rambling, prose-ish poems. The voice of them is always really informal and conversational, and not in a good way - more like a "drunk old man in a bar" way. The subject matter of this particular volume tends to be the Speaker reflecting on other writers. This gets kind of old after awhile.

The Good
"Vile Jelly"
Will the eyes of conscience also be punctured? Spilled?

Or not laugh, not every day, but not cry either, or maybe a little, maybe cry just a lit
Kent Winward
Nov 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I have enjoyed CK Williams poetry over the years and this collection is another good example of his work. I tend to like my poetry easily ingested and about half of this volume was.

On a complete side note, every poetry book should come with a recording of the author reading the poetry. Poetic words on a page lose something that is gained through vocalization -- but that is my personal preference.
World Literature Today
"As this vivid and surprising image evidences, C. K. Williams’s many readers will be happy to receive these lively and interesting new poems, whatever the process that births them." - Benjamin Myers, Oklahoma Baptist University

This book was reviewed in the March 2013 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our website:
Adam Hanover
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Highly ekphrastic at times, too much so for my taste. Williams has an idiosyncratic style tailor made for storytelling through lyric poems, but falls into the pattern of lamenting his old age in every poem and name-dropping geniuses of ages past.
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I'm not sure why this guy's famous. Perhaps 2 or 3 of the poems drew me in, the rest were not all that well written. He deals with complex issues in an uninviting, insincere manner.
Allison Janicki
rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2018
Micah W
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Dec 31, 2017
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Dec 06, 2013
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
rated it it was amazing
Sep 20, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Dec 10, 2017
rated it it was ok
Aug 11, 2013
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Aug 22, 2015
rated it liked it
Oct 05, 2015
John Lamb
rated it liked it
Apr 12, 2013
rated it it was ok
Sep 21, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Feb 07, 2016
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C.K. Williams was born and grew up in and around Newark, New Jersey. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in philosophy and English. He has published many books of poetry, including Repair, which was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, The Singing which won the National Book Award for 2003, and Flesh and Blood, the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Prize in 1987 ...more
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